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Australia gasoline imports from US surge in Aug amid tight Asian supply

Singapore — Australia received more than 1.4 million barrels of automotive gasoline from the US in August, marking the biggest monthly import volume from the North American supplier this year as tight availability and lofty price tags in Asia prompted the Oceania consumer to shop for cargoes elsewhere.

US supply of the auto fuel to Australia had been comparatively minuscule in the months leading up to August with the volumes rising from zero in April to 37,861 barrels in July before the August surge, latest data from the country's Department of the Environment and Energy showed.

The last notable monthly volume was in March when Australia received 425,820 barrels.

The uptick in August saw the US overtook key Asian auto fuel suppliers South Korea, China and Japan for the month as Australia's largest supplier of the fuel.

South Korea supplied 1.31 million barrels in August, down 5% from July, while Australia imported less than 100,000 barrels from Japan and no cargo from China during the month, the government data showed.

Australia's gasoline imports

TIGHT, EXPENSIVE ASIAN SUPPLY

Robust Asian demand for spot gasoline cargoes for loading in July might have led to limited barrels available for sales and deliveries to Australia in the third quarter, Asian refinery and oil product trading sources told S&P Global Platts.

Japan, for one, had stepped up gasoline imports for loadings in July, totaling at least 1.3 million barrels, to make up for supply tightness from domestic refinery issues and turnarounds, market sources previously told Platts.

The country's biggest refiner JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy had bought one MR-sized gasoline cargo for delivery at the end of July for its 145,000 b/d Sendai refinery in the northwest, where it was at the time running a scheduled refinery turnaround.

The additional demand from Japan was also noted by participants having helped to support the Asian gasoline market in July, which together with additional demand from Philippines, Vietnam as well as the Middle East had mopped up excess barrels in a region.

The extended shutdown of Philippines Petron's 180,000 b/d refinery in

Bataan as well as the outage of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company's RFCC at its 837,000 b/d Ruwais Refinery West has led to spot buying interest from both regions, lending support to the market, industry and trading sources said.

In addition, supply from China slipped in August, as the country's 200,000 b/d Wepec refinery reportedly cut its August gasoline exports to 140,000 mt, 17.6% lower month on month from 170,000 mt in July.

Reflecting the strength in Asian supply and demand fundamentals in Q3, the FOB Singapore 92 RON gasoline crack against front month ICE Brent crude futures contract hit a multi-month high of $8.86/b on July 12, up from the $2.94/b average in June, Platts data showed. In August, the crack spread averaged a healthy $6.55/b.

AVIATION FUEL, DIESEL

Australia's imports of aviation fuel from Singapore bounced back in August after a dip in July while volumes from South Korea continued to rise, the data from the Canberra-based unit showed.

With 2.01 million barrels in August, South Korea was the largest contributor to Australia's imports for the month. The volume was up 21% year on year and surged 259% from July.

Australia's imports of the fuel from Singapore rose to 998,222 barrels, increasing 12% year on year and 77% month on month.

Shipments from Japan stood at 399,867 barrels, down 16% from a year earlier, the data showed.

A month on month slump in imports of diesel from Japan in August made Singapore the largest supplier to Australia for the month.

Diesel includes automotive diesel oil, industrial and marine diesel fuel and biodiesel.

Diesel shipments from Singapore came in at 2.7 million barrels in August, up 0.7% from July, the data showed.

Diesel imports from Japan stood at 2.59 million barrels, up 5% from a year earlier but down 26% from July.

-- Mark Tan, mark.tan@spglobal.com

-- Gawoon Philip Vahn, philip.vahn@spglobal.com

-- Nathan Richardson, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Debiprasad Nayak, debiprasad.nayak@spglobal.com